Updated: Aug 25, 2021
By: Archiebald Faller Capila
It is without a doubt that the practice of law in itself is hard to manage. Given is the fact that while law school may be hard, nobody prepares you on how to deal with the life applying all the lessons in actual practice. The latter requires the members of the profession an immense amount of focus in order to fulfill and realize the duties expected of every lawyer in the country.
However, how hard the profession may be, some practitioners manage to find a way in order to detach themselves from the legal world and start a venture not related to the said profession. While some are focused on building a career solely on the merits of the law, some see to it that they still have another line of work or hobby to go to which is isolated from the practice of law itself.
While others build an empire through their other ventures, some lawyers are threading a simpler path. For them, a life outside the practice of law must in itself be a relief—a breath of fresh air. For them, the world not related to the legal practice must in fact bring happiness rather than an additional burden.
In this world where one cannot seem to enjoy both contrasting sides, there lies a thin line that separates work and happiness. However, for Atty. Lalaine T. Gaturian-Javing, both satisfaction from work and happiness from another endeavor are possible for as long as you know what you are doing. Atty. Gaturian-Javing is one of the few exceptions who enjoy her life both as a successful lawyer and a successful businesswoman. For her, for as long as you treat anything with a positive mindset, anything will flourish.
In an exclusive interview with Barrista Solutions, Atty. Gaturian-Javing shares what it’s like to practice law while managing a separate business, how she sees the legal profession in general, and her message to all law students trying to survive one day at a time.
Barrista Solutions: Aside from working as a practitioner in the field of law, you also operate a personal business. How do you manage your time in juggling two different facets of your life?
Atty. Gaturian-Javing: Cliché as it may sound but it is all about time management. I have a regular 8-hour job in the court from Monday to Friday, so my food business is done after office and on weekends or holidays. On top of this, I also have a family to take care of. Luckily, my husband also does his share in maintaining the household and attending to our three little girls. This business really started out simply because I am passionate about cooking and baking. Although it is an earning enterprise, this is not really a regular thing and is just basically a work-of-love. In that way, I don’t feel pressured at all. I feel so much happiness seeing my friends and other acquaintances loving the food I prepared. The small income is just a bonus.
Barrista Solutions: Because of the current pandemic, all establishments and businesses are affected as well. What are the measures that you adopt in order to keep your personal venture afloat?
Atty. Gaturian-Javing: Before the pandemic, almost all the customers of my products are either friends or friends of friends, so it is just the word of mouth publicity that kept it going, which works just fine with me. When the pandemic started, I got more time on my hand, especially during the quarantine period. When I don’t have to go to the office everyday, I was able to come up with a product that has a longer shelf life compared to the baked products that I have been making. It led me to aggressively use social media pages such as Facebook, Shopee, and Instagram as the main platforms for advertising my business and expand its marketing reach by getting more people to try it. As mentioned earlier, my business is more of a hobby. Since I don’t have a physical store and I do all the work myself, the pandemic has not affected it that much negatively.
Barrista Solutions: Was conducting a business a part of your plan in the first place even before you pursued a career in law? Accordingly, what plans, if any, do you have in mind in order to have your business grow even more in the near future?
Atty. Gaturian-Javing: No, it wasn’t part of my plan and neither was pursuing a legal career. I guess God has a way of leading us to His plan. We may not understand it now but eventually, we will realize that God knows what is best for us. All that we have to do is to trust Him and be prepared for whatever comes our way.
Honestly, I have not thought of focusing on the growth of my business for now. I am just enjoying the chance to do something I love in my spare time and to take my mind off the legal matters in my work. However, if I will be given the chance in the future, I will probably find ways to make it bigger by learning the art of baking and cooking professionally in order to enhance my skills and improve the products that I am offering.
Barrista Solutions: For you, what are the advantages of having legal knowledge in operating such kind of business?
Atty. Gaturian-Javing: The advantage of having legal knowledge in operating a business is that I know the legal means to protect and promote my interest. Also, as a legal practitioner, I am more cognizant of my responsibilities toward the government and its regulatory bodies (e.g. business registration, payment of taxes, etc.) as well as my responsibility to the public who are the customers. Being a lawyer for many years now has also helped widen my social network of friends and acquaintances and this proves to be a helpful tool in growing the business enterprise.
Barrista Solutions: The current landscape, both in the legal and business side of things has changed because of the current pandemic. What do you think should be the adjustments made in general in order to improve the quality of service from both points of view?
Atty. Gaturian-Javing: Pandemic or not, I think that in order to give quality service to the clients, you must work really hard in providing the best service and products. Even if it means going out of your way to provide this, you must do it in order to meet or exceed the expectations of the clients. Personally, it is also important for me that you are honest and upfront to the persons you are dealing with. An example of this is telling customers if you can accommodate their request and ask for more time if it is impossible to accomplish or deliver it in a day. Quality services and products will always result in customer satisfaction so that the one providing it must learn how to do it properly, pandemic or not.
Barrista Solutions: In the near future, do you see yourself handling both the legal practice and the conduct of your personal business?
Atty. Gaturian-Javing: Yes, I can see that happening in the future. Legal practice is so broad and its applications in business and daily life are multifarious. Even if I will decide soon to focus on my business venture and decide to leave my work at the court, there is still legal work to be done in the business itself. That is the beauty of the legal profession—it is not confined to layman’s usual understanding of the practice of law which is litigation, preparation of legal documents, legal advice, and client advocacy. Almost all aspects of our lives are governed by the law. So, I definitely can see myself handling both legal practice and the conduct of my personal business in the future.
Barrista Solutions: If you could give advice to your younger self who is about to embark on her journey as a practicing member of the legal profession and as a businesswoman, what would it be?
Atty. Gaturian-Javing: When I started practicing, I was so scared because I had no idea what I would do, and I was so afraid to make a mistake. It felt like law school all over again. From the time I was admitted to the Philippine Bar in 2009, apart from my current stint in the judiciary I have also previously served as a junior associate in a law firm as well as legal counsel for the Professional Regulation Commission and in the Department of Education. In more than ten (10) years in the legal profession, I have come to realize that continuous studying and additional learning are very much needed. That sense of desire for constant self-improvement and delivery of better services to clients could also be applicable in the business setting.
So, I would probably tell myself to just go ahead with it and not to worry too much. I mean, you can never be an expert in any field if you will not experience failure. Just try it and learn something from the experience. Whatever the outcome may be - good or bad - it always has a purpose and you will always learn something out of it. In the end, we become better professionals and persons because of the experience.
Barrista Solutions: What is your message to all the students of the law out there trying to become members of the legal profession someday?
Atty. Gaturian-Javing: The study of law in school is just a part of the formal process, but that does not mean that you can just “wing it” so to speak. There are no shortcuts to the learning experience, so you have to give your best effort. Not only does this entail serious study but also a lot of sacrifice on our part. After all, graduating from the course and passing the bar exam is not the end of learning. Even when you become lawyers already, you must continue to keep abreast of new laws and jurisprudence to remain effective as legal professionals. Most importantly, as we continue with our journey in learning the law, we must not forget to ask for His guidance and wisdom.
When you get the chance to become members of the legal profession someday, always remain humble. Do not let the prospect of fame and fortune make you forget the essence of being a lawyer which is public service. Always bear in mind that although being a lawyer is a noble and prestigious profession, there is a concomitant responsibility that goes with it. More than intellect, you must have humility and divine providence, only then can you truly achieve success in the legal field.